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The Libertarian Party State of the Union: 'Americans deserve better' than 'Republicans and Democrats careen[ing] toward socialism and fascism'

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt delivers the L.P.'s prebuttal to tonight's SOTU, while the L.A. Times asks whether Hewitt can "make a fringe party mainstream."

||| Jeff HewittJeff HewittWhile Democrats bicker over who should give responses to tonight's State of the Union Address, Libertarians have gone the prebuttal route, delivered by the party's biggest star, the recently elected Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt.

Hewitt, the pension-reforming former mayor of tiny Calimesa, California, who now represents 438,000 constituents, starts off the message from America's third-largest party by reciting piles of contextual good news that "you won't hear in the torrent of doom and gloom from our nation's capital"—one billion people lifted out of extreme poverty in just three decades, plummeting crime, miraculous advances in technology, and so forth.

But lest you think this a Ron Bailey or Steven Pinker recital, the mood does turn darker. "Our national debt has skyrocketed to almost $22 trillion," Hewitt laments. In jails and prisons, "hundreds of thousands are behind bars for no just reason at all." And: "Our sons and daughters have been deployed to far-flung, never-ending wars without constitutional authorization."

And on the political conflict du jour, Hewitt comes out foursquare in favor of immigration, and against what immigration-prevention policies have turned America into:

At our southern border, government agents have committed acts of cruelty that shock the conscience in pursuit of the counter-productive and futile goal of controlling the free migration of people. America's immigration bureaucracy has become an authoritarian monstrosity, aimed not just outward to would-be immigrants but also inward at American citizens. The prohibition of immigration requires an extensive apparatus for mass surveillance and government intrusion into our daily lives. Libertarians say: The United States should welcome immigrants.

Watch the whole message here:

Hewitt's political talent lies less in reading speeches, and more in charming rooms (and talking ears off), as this Los Angeles Times profile today by occasional Reason contributor Gustavo Arellano illustrates.

Before swearing in Hewitt [to the Board of Supervisors], [L.P. National Chair Nicholas] Sarwark lectured the packed chamber about pension reform — a Libertarian battle cry ­­— and how his candidate was "one of maybe a handful of people around the country" who understood the issue.

Then Hewitt won the room over with an off-the-cuff speech speckled with jokes, asides, and praise of the board's ethnic and ideological diversity. He didn't offer much in terms of a vision, saying only that he would bring "fresh ideas" and a promise to always say the truth "the way I see it." But his audience rewarded Hewitt's folksy delivery with loud applause.

In a region and state where Republicans are growing rapidly extinct, Hewitt's success has not escaped the notice of Golden State politics-watchers. Republican strategist Mike Madrid told Arellano that:

Hewitt "seems to have the recipe" for how the Libertarian Party can carry the mantle of conservatism in California as the Republican Party continues its decline: Focus on local issues and stop "being a hater."

"It may be more unique than not, but that's how these trends start," he said of Hewitt's upset victory. "It's like baseball stats: It's not a thing until it's a thing. And then it's a thing to watch."

Jodi Balma, a political science professor at Fullerton College, said Hewitt's success shows that Libertarian candidates could "build a pipeline to higher office" by first winning nonpartisan local races for school boards, city councils and other local positions.

Related: Read Steven Greenhut's "California Libertarian's Victory Could Be a Roadmap for Others."

Photo Credit: Jeff Hewitt

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    Go Libertarianism...

    but jesus, these stupid "rebuttals" are not the ticket. Maybe this will be the year.

  • ||

    but jesus, these stupid "rebuttals" are not the ticket. Maybe this will be the year.

    I'm not a huge audiophile as I have hearing damage, but the audio is terrible.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ it sounds like the thing was filmed in a sewer tunnel.

  • NashTiger||

    I tuned out as soon as I saw "fascism".

    For the first time in quite a while we are taking affirmative steps away from fascism

  • Ryan (formally HFTO)||

    "fascism" to Reason is maintaining the most prosperous civilization in the history of mankind and not giving a fuck what other countries think.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Agreed: Fascism as a word d'jour had become a meaningless phantom menace with which to paint whatever offends you.

  • Uncle Adolf’s Gas and Grill||

    If they were a little more self-aware, they might ask themselves just how badly you have to fuck up such that a non-trivial and growing number of people are considering fascism to be an improvement.

  • Eddy||

    I wish I could be as self-assured about The Right Immigration Policy as everyone else is. Still and all, this sort of pre-buttal can at least be kept on file so that the speaker can say, for the most part, "I told you so," when his advice is ignored and it all goes to &^%$.

  • TLBD||

    Demographics is destiny. Ask Turkey. Islamists out bred the secularists.

    Why some libertarians dont understand this is beyond me.

    Or maybe they do and their deontological ethics make them unmoving. Which, to the rest of the population, makes them poor leaders and not worth electing. I cant help but agree. Those who disregard consequentialism are rarely any more than dupes for one ideology or the other.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    +1000

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Because libertarians are individualists, and collectivists.

  • ||

    Speak for yourself.

  • Uncle Adolf’s Gas and Grill||

    Seriously? I notice few libertarians are living out on the frontiers or the jungles, where they'd be unencombered by any onerous laws or nosy neighbors.

    Nope, they aren't content with enjoying their freedom in solitude, they expect to dwell within society and except the rest of society to cater to and respect their endless list of "riiiiiiights!".

    Sorry, but society is a collective. Of course, you already understand that, or else you wouldn't have any reason to be involved in political activism in the first place.

  • DenverJ||

    I like living here. Everybody else should leave. Dude, the only place you can really homestead anymore is Alaska. It's fucking cold in Alaska. And dark.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And yet we so rarely see active recruiting or argument with these new demographics from the Republicans. They fail to argue convincingly to many foreigners, when they should be recruiting directly with them. You are right, demographics are destiny, and trying to prevent any demographics from ever changing again is destined to lose over any significant time period.

  • Ryan (formally HFTO)||

    You mean Republicans don't pander to minorities through free shit and attacking whitey?

    For Shame

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    They don't even bother to explain their side, and they are consistently pilloried as the source of evil in this nation. The underlying argument from TLBD is that "Islamists out bred the secularists" and the same thing will happen here, except with socialists, however we choose to define that at this moment.

    Except Mexicans and Foreigners are not uniform groups. They can be discussed with and recruited from.

    This doesn't even go into the fact that seemingly all onerous is put on foreign born people, or children of foreigners, even though major demographic shifts are happening within American children who have been here awhile. Hell, was the even more extremely socialist shifts that took place during the 60s and 70s also solely the work of foreign influence?

  • Uncle Adolf’s Gas and Grill||

    Um, actually, yes. They may not have been first generation, fresh of the boat immigrants, but a quick look at the list of the movers and shakers of those days makes it pretty clear they weren't exactly Mayflower WASPs, either.

  • Azathoth!!||

    They don't even bother to explain their side

    They try to explain their side ALL THE TIME and 'private companies can decide to do business with whoever they wish'--unless it's giving people on the right a platform upon which to explain themselves--then it must be screamed down, destroyed and the lives of anyone who sought to explain should be ruined.

    Or had you not noticed?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I think Andrew Willow nailed it when he said "I don't care if the majority of Americans are white. I do care that the majority of Americans are American".

  • Ryan (formally HFTO)||

    They won't have to pay the consequences, which makes it very easy to sit on your high horse

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    I didn't know Islamists were a breed, I thought people had agency and choose their belief system? Like me, I was born and raised Catholic but now am agnostic. But if that is indeed the case, I don't understand why Republicans are against a bunch of Catholic anti-abortion immigrants swelling the voting ranks to end Roe v Wade, since many I know say that's their no 1 issue.

  • DesigNate||

    Islam isn't necessarily just a religious activity or belief system. So it's not technically incorrect to point out that the people who think Islamic/Sharia law should govern the country outbred the ones who didn't.

  • JFree||

    What happened in Turkey had nothing to do with 'breeding'. Ataturks reforms and 'modernizing' were perceived as having failed in some important ways - so people changed their minds about what is next. Economic growth was not fast enough to 'grow' out of debt (private or public) - or broadly distributed enough to reduce corruption - and favored foreign entities. A secular Turkey was never accepted as 'really' part of the West for any trade/etc benefits - but was subject to the usual periodic IMF austerity cuz of debt/banks. The parties of the secular left and the secular right were hopelessly partisan - each with some paramilitary elements causing trouble - and the military kept stepping in to 'right the ship' - all of which undermined the idea of democracy. It all came together in a huge financial crisis in 2001.

    Erdogan (and his party) started as something that even in Western terms is social conservative and economic social welfarism. In Turkey, the former means 'Islamist' to one degree or another (you expected a bunch of Pentecostal Calvinists to pop up?) - and the latter can always be incorporated into any religious view of charity-via-the-state.

    2002 election eliminated everything in Turkish politics before 2001 (90%+ turnover in their Parliament - that's not a 'breeding' change). He's since become more authoritarian (or revealed his stripes).

  • JFree||

    If in 2018, every DeRp had lost their seat in House - replaced by Libertarians and Greens - it would be rather silly to look to L/G breeding habits as even an insignificant reason for their victory.

  • Aloysious||

    But lest you think this a Ron Bailey...

    Who?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    +100

  • JoeJoetheIdiotCircusBoy||

    A longtime Reason writer who is optimistic to a fault

  • Just Say'n||

    Optimistic about robots. Pessimistic on people having kids.

  • ||

    Pessimistic on people having kids.

    And is paradoxically afraid that a previously undiscovered virus or disease may wipe significant numbers of unvaccinated people from the planet but is certain that the same undiscovered virus or disease won't be artificially engineered.

  • Just Say'n||

    Also, government regulations on coal actually means that the free market is working or something that makes absolutely no sense

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I can understand his base argument that it's good for people to have more reproductive control, even if I think there are negative consequences of it I can at least understand it. He does seem to have an underlying bias against children though, sort of neo-Malthusian on one end, and the other just a general distaste.

  • Just Say'n||

    He has criticized neo-Malthusians (rightly so) and then makes Malthusian arguments in support of a declining birthrate. So, I don't know if he agrees or disagrees with Malthus' nonsense

  • DenverJ||

    Some demographers think the UN predictions on population growth are backwards, and that in 30 years the world population will be smaller than today. This is because the world's population is rapidly becoming educated, which leads people to have fewer children.
    If this is true, would this be helpful for freedom? I think so, but am I correct?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Thanks Ron bailey.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Medicare for all!

  • Just Say'n||

    No. It's the LP which is trying to bill itself as the mushy moderates. So there slogan will be "Medicare for some and finger wagging for others"

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    What are tiny American flags, chopped liver?

  • Just Say'n||

    You just bought yourself a finger wagging

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    With the Democrats moving toward democratic socialism and the Republicans having fully embraced fascism / white nationalism, the choice for us Koch / Reason libertarians is clear. We must vote Democrat. At least they agree with us on immigration.

  • Kevin Smith||

    That's kindof like saying "at least Hitler built up the Autobahn"

  • Eddy||

    ...and made stylish uniforms popular!

  • AlmightyJB||

    And made the trains run on time.

  • Brandybuck||

    That was Mussolini.

  • Just Say'n||

    Occasional Cortex wants to run a train on Mussolini

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    AOC interned for Teddy Kennedy. I wonder if her resume was a copy of that video of her dancing around braless in that tight t shirt?

  • Uncle Jay||

    ...and was a vegetarian.

  • Brandybuck||

    But he doesn't want endless war so he's not to be taken seriously. I mean sheesh, the guy probably can't even spell the names of the towns who won't bomb...

  • Just Say'n||

    He's running in the LP. Based on recent experience, I'd say he's about as anti-war as Gary "Permanent Bases in Afghanistan" Johnson

  • Just Say'n||

    "Fiscally incoherent and socially totalitarian"

  • Just Say'n||

    "And on the political conflict du jour, Hewitt comes out foursquare in favor of immigration, and against what immigration-prevention policies have turned America into"

    You mean he comes out in favor of "southern border" immigration. There is nothing in that statement that says he wants to do anything to liberalize immigration policies. He just wants unlimited immigration from the "southern border" which accounts for a whopping less than 1% of total immigration.

  • Dillinger||

    Libertarian SOTU: Having a grateful day. Hope you are too.

  • SIV||

    The inevitable legalization of weed will deal a death blow to the increasingly irrelevant capital "L" Libertarians. It can't come soon enough.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    It can't come soon enough.

    Unlike your mom - that bitch be cummin buckets, bro!

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    You got a cum bucket theme going nowadays.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    It's more like a cream, if you know what i mean.

  • ||

    Unlike your mom - that bitch be cummin buckets, bro!

    Buckets? If it ain't rhinos (NSFW), you're doing something wrong.

  • mtrueman||

    " said Hewitt's success shows that Libertarian candidates could "build a pipeline to higher office" by first winning nonpartisan local races for school boards, city councils and other local positions"

    Success? The guy's a county official, like a sheriff or dog catcher. Trump offers a far better model on how to achieve power, without experience in running for office or holding it, no matter how lowly and local.

  • ||

    Success? The guy's a county official, like a sheriff or dog catcher. Trump offers a far better model on how to achieve power, without experience in running for office or holding it, no matter how lowly and local.

    Currently outranks Stacey Abrams.

  • mtrueman||

    We call that damning with faint praise.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I suppose if I ever ran for office, I would emulate his example. Piss off the media for coverage, be shames, and troll them.

  • mtrueman||

    I've never seen Trump live at one of his rallies. On TV though, he comes over rather well, at least he can deliver a polished performance.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Just another old white guy getting all uppity.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Uppity honky!

  • JWatts||

    "Libertarians have gone the prebuttal route, delivered by the party's biggest star, the recently elected Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt."

    Ouch!

  • JWatts||

    "elected Riverside County Supervisor" is now the "party's biggest star,"

    Is it time to admit the Libertarian party is on the ropes and needs a change of direction? Frankly, anywhere but down would be an improvement.

  • $park¥ is the Worst||

    Why are these speeches called rebuttals?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I'd prefer if they were she puddles, if you know what I mean...

  • $park¥ is the Worst||

    IKWYM

  • Crusty Juggler||

    ILY

  • awildseaking||

    The fundamental problem with the party (and why I prefer the Paul approach) is that Libertarianism, at least to the average American, is not so radically different from either party as Republicans are from Democrats and vice versa. Most people aren't Libertarians and the party often comes across as a single issue party because neither major party has the same principled focus. People who vote R or D want certain policy outcomes and don't really seem to mind how they accomplish it. Not only are the major parties anathema to one another, but they are also anathema to the Libertarian party because people don't like when small government principles get in the way of doing what they want.

    If you want to limit government, the best course of action is continuing to influence the Republican party. What Democrats want fundamentally cannot work without big government and big government Republicans can accomplish their policy goals without the inefficiency of government.

  • Just Say'n||

    "is that Libertarianism, at least to the average American, is not so radically different from either party as Republicans are from Democrats and vice versa."

    I agree on this point. But, I'm not sure entryism, via the Pauls, is necessarily the best route. The Pauls have been very successful and they got Massie and Amash originally elected on their coattails. But, Paul, Massie, and Amash remain largely isolated within the party. The Republican controlled Senate just rebuked the president's attempt to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan, which I think tells you all you need to know about the Republican Party.

    At the very least, though, I don't think it's too much to demand that the LP at least nominate someone who is equally as anti-war as Rand Paul (they haven't done that since 2004). And to at least offer some alternative policy prescription on issues like immigration or entitlements rather than just latching on to whatever policy prescription one of the two major parties has endorsed.

  • John||

    Libertarians can say they are on the right side of public opinion and most of the two major parties on the wrong side of public opinion on two issues; overseas wars and out of control debt and spending. The reason why Ron Paul got more actual votes in the Republican primary than any Libertarian ever has for President and likely more than every Libertarian combined is because those were his two issues and if you cared about those issues, and a lot of people do, there was a reason to vote for him rather than the two major parties.

    Libertarians learned nothing from that small bit of success. They continue to stake their future on drugs and endless immigration; two issues where they are just parroting the Democratic Party line and giving no one any reason to vote for them. If your two most important issues are pot and letting as many Central Americans in the country as possible, you can just vote Democrat. What do the Libertarians offer on those issues that the Democrats don't? Nothing.

  • lap83||

    What do the Libertarians offer on those issues that the Democrats don't? Nothing.

    naïveté and good intentions?

    (no, I don't think Democrats even have good intentions going for them when it comes to immigration...)

  • John||

    "Come be a useful idiot" would at least have the virtue of being a truthful party slogan.

  • JFree||

    continuing to influence the Republican party

    Yeah - cuz that's worked wonders

  • awildseaking||

    Considering the discourse from Romneybot and the 2016 primaries, I'd say influencing the Republicans has worked better than the alternatives. You couldn't pay a Republican to discuss sentencing reform before Trump eviscerated the empty suits and banished low energy Jeb to the shadow realm.

  • DenverJ||

    I think libertarians should appreciate the Originalist judges being appointed and promoted under Trump.

  • JFree||

    Gorsuch is fine so far.

    Kavanaugh will just be another Alito.

    But the next level down? The future SC appointees? Mostly just a bunch of partisan hacks. Federalist Society is now as much a hive-minded groupthink old-boys-network as it is a needed antidote to judicial hive-minded groupthink old-boys-networks

  • JFree||

    'Originalism' itself is not necessarily a philosophy that enhances individual liberty. Many parts of our Constitution really were created solely as compromises between slave states and non-slave states. Not because they enhanced liberty. And I'm not talking the 3/5 formula obvious stuff. We long ago destroyed much of the value of separation of powers between state level and federal level in ways that cannot ever even be reviewed by a court.

    Ideally this means we should have had a couple of constitutional conventions since then. There is no modern interest in protecting institutional formulations built around protecting slavery as property. Or an imbalance of the imperial executive which is the branch that has grown its power into every vacuum thats popped up. Originalism can never be a substitute for that - and it can be and sometimes is a positive hindrance.

    Compared to the need for judges who understand technology or judges like Posner, originalism can be nothing more than yearning for medieval arguments about angels and pins.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    In jails and prisons, "hundreds of thousands are behind bars for no just reason at all."

    jfc Hewitt the reason they are in prison is because they BROKE THE LAW. I thought Libertarians believed in the RULE OF LAW, but I guess I was mistaken.

    Not enforcing the RULE OF LAW is what keeps Libertarianism from succeeding.

  • IceTrey||

    Laws can be immoral such as drug prohibition.

  • soldiermedic76||

    The problem is you have to convince people that the laws are unjust. That will probably prove easy enough for pot, polling tend to support marijuana legalization and most people, even if they don't like, have accepted it will be legalized sooner rather than later. Heroim, cocaine, meth etc are going to be far harder to convince people to legalize. I think the effort should focus on slow progression and not just focused on drugs. We should be questioning the 21 drinking age, if you are old enough to die for your country or votrt for president why can't you have a beer isa question many latter day teetotalers struggle with. We should also focus on how regulations don't restrict large corporations but aid them by making it difficult for small businesses to compete. Imagration, open borders is probably never going to be a real winner with most Americans. There is a conversation to be had about liberalizing and updating imigration but the LP tend to give the same false equivalency as the Democrats do with relating opposition to illegal imigration to opposition to immigration period.

  • n00bdragon||

    Christ Reason, do you have to persistently hammer home just how utterly irrelevant the LP is? Seriously, your biggest star has risen from mayor of an unpopulated stretch of highway 10 to the county supervisor of a Los Angeles suburb? Did you really need to point out that the most powerful Libertarian in American politics who isn't pretending to be a Republican "oversees" (more like "is an employee for") a county of less than a half million people? Couldn't you just say "a high position in local government near LA!" or were you trying to be insulting?

    Call me when make it to mayor of a town with stoplights.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    It's like baseball stats: It's not a thing until it's a thing. And then it's a thing to watch."

    I am an avid Fangraphs reader and I have no idea what this guy is talking about.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Matt just included the quote because it was a baseball analogy.

  • Tony||

    Measuring by standards in the rest of the civilized world, the Democrats are centrist and the Republicans are far-right. Far-right never works, and centrist only gets you so far. Stop worrying and love the universal healthcare. It's not like you idiots have a better idea.

  • Just Say'n||

    You are a hopeless idiot

  • Tony||

    Your comic book utopia will be real someday! If only you believe! And a little bit of fairy dust!

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    "Stop worrying and love the universal healthcare."

    Damn straight. If we're gonna go broke, might as well do it in our own lifetime.

  • IceTrey||

    Here's a better idea, a laissez faire free market.

  • Uncle Jay||

    Actually, Americans deserve someone in office who will follow the US Constitution to the letter, leave people alone as long as their not breaking the law, do not steal from its citizens, wage war, and use government as an instrument to make them more powerful over all us little people and their cronies rich.
    Idiots reading this will be calling me a fascist in 3...2...1...

  • DenverJ||

    See, the Republicans claim to support all those things, too. But once elected, the politicians don't deliver. If the LP ever started winning elections, the same kind of politicians would be running as libertarians.

  • Nardz||

    Anytime Democrats, such as Welch (stronger together!), start with the "both sides", you know Democrats fucked up pretty bad

  • HiloJoe||

    It's actually called Fascialism. There, fixed that for ya..

  • vli||

    Jeff Hewitt's campaign in Riverside was one to watch and remember for years to come. It was certainly an uphill battle against the more funded and established Republican candidate. However, the people were ready for a change and Libertarians knew it was the perfect time to strike. Year after year, we're seeing more and more of the newer generations choosing to go independent because the Republicans and Democrats are just not appealing to them. One example is the substantial amount of young activists that took to the streets campaigning for Jeff Hewitt. When was the last time you saw a large group of people in their early 20s (maybe younger?) sign waving for a candidate?

  • Alive Free Happy||

    The GoP is dead in California - a zombie organization barely moving, tenuously extant only for its malignant grip on elections. I appreciate the Trump Trolls driving that point home, crying out in fear: " but... but... but... Libertarians are irrelevant!" Libertarians may be irrelevant to your decrepit and failed generation, but you old goats are one foot in the grave, and the generations behind you detest you.

    Hewitt was elected to a 5 person legislature with authority over a land mass about the size of New Jersey, has a population greater than 15 states and a GDP larger than 20. Irrelevant? Heh heh heh... Keep telling yourself that especially if it helps you slip faster into the long dark night. Good bye GoP - Good Riddance.

  • Radio||

    I've personally seen Jeff's campaign in Riverside unfold. The young volunteers over there were very enthusiastic and I'm glad to see Jeff gain the victory he got. He's a supervisor for a county that's bigger that some states in terms of population. As far as I can tell, this is a big win for LIbertarians because we need to start locally.

  • HiredGoon||

    Glad to see Hewitt is continuing to focus on issues - not slinging mud and being obstructionist like the mainstream parties. Obviously, at least half of the people he reached agreed with him. I am looking forward to seeing how his term goes, I have hope.

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